A Nyamira County farmer tends to his passion fruits. Passion fruit prices have sharply risen against low supply. Photo by Laban Robert.
The shortage of passion fruits for domestic and commercial consumption has sparked a rise in price as the entities strive to meet their fruit needs.
The disparity in supply is evident from the margin of the cost of passion fruits in the various towns in Kenya. From a sample of seven towns, the wholesale cost difference between the highest and the lowest if triple.
While a bag of 57kg of passion fruit is costing Sh9,690 in Embu, the same quantity is being sold at Sh3,000 in Kisumu – the cheapest.
Comparing the two towns, the disparity on the cost per kilo is about Sh118 - Sh170 in Embu and 53 in Kisumu- according to Sokodirectory.
Nairobi is buying the same quantity at Sh5,700 while Mombasa is paying Sh6,000 on wholesale, Kitale is the second highest market after Embu buying the 57kg passion fruits at Sh6,600.
The trend of the low supply of passion fruit has been perennial with soft drinks companies like Coca Cola looking for the fruits from farmers with futility.
After the four to five months drought experienced in Kenya from the end of 2016, only farmers who had irrigation means survived the disaster, may have something to sell.
The shortage is not only for the fruits, but other vegetables too.
Passion fruit demand has many a time, been high as soft drink companies strive to meet this raw material. They are forced to import the fruits, with some of them bringing in concentrates because the fresh produce is also limited internationally.
Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organisation’s Horticulture Research Institute officer Peter Mburu said increased demand makes passion fruit a better agribusiness venture than maize, which on many occasions, does not repay the invested production costs.
On ordinary supply, a kilo of the passion fruits sells at about Sh80.